Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 221, Issue 8, pp 4269–4279

Left medial orbitofrontal cortex volume correlates with skydive-elicited euphoric experience

  • Joshua M. Carlson
  • Jiook Cha
  • Tomer Fekete
  • Tsafrir Greenberg
  • Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi
Short Communication


The medial orbitofrontal cortex has been linked to the experience of positive affect. Greater medial orbitofrontal cortex volume is associated with greater expression of positive affect and reduced medial orbital frontal cortex volume is associated with blunted positive affect. However, little is known about the experience of euphoria, or extreme joy, and how this state may relate to variability in medial orbitofrontal cortex structure. To test the hypothesis that variability in euphoric experience correlates with the volume of the medial orbitofrontal cortex, we measured individuals’ (N = 31) level of self-reported euphoria in response to a highly anticipated first time skydive and measured orbitofrontal cortical volumes with structural magnetic resonance imaging. Skydiving elicited a large increase in self-reported euphoria. Participants’ euphoric experience was predicted by the volume of their left medial orbitofrontal cortex such that, the greater the volume, the greater the euphoria. Further analyses indicated that the left medial orbitofrontal cortex and amygdalo-hippocampal complex independently explain variability in euphoric experience and that medial orbitofrontal cortex volume, in conjunction with other structures within the mOFC-centered corticolimbic circuit, can be used to predict individuals’ euphoric experience.


Skydive Euphoria Medial prefrontal cortex Reward Hedonia 

Supplementary material

429_2015_1139_MOESM1_ESM.docx (645 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 645 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua M. Carlson
    • 1
  • Jiook Cha
    • 2
  • Tomer Fekete
    • 3
  • Tsafrir Greenberg
    • 4
  • Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorthern Michigan UniversityMarquetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryColumbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, The New York State Psychiatric InstituteNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory for Perceptual Dynamics, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biomedical EngineeringStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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